Kerry Should Speak Up for Human Rights in Central Asia

Washington

In response to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan this week, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“Secretary Kerry’s visit to Central Asia is a vital opportunity for him to publicly tell the citizens of these countries that political pluralism matters,” said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs. “The Secretary should make it clear both in private and in public that the United States supports the aspirations of the people of Central Asia to speak freely, and to choose their leaders in free and fair elections. The United States should not fall into the trap of legitimizing the rule of presidents-for-life in exchange for the illusion of stability.”

Background:
Secretary Kerry is visiting the five Central Asian republics October 28 - November 3. Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are rated “Not Free” in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2015. All are ruled by presidents who have destroyed the opposition and imprisoned dozens of dissidents and opponents. Kyrgyzstan is rated “Partly Free,” but in the last two years the government has notably increased pressure on human rights defenders, LGBTI activists, and religious figures.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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